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Inner Peace, Incense And Eco Warriors: Buddhism Without Borders

Worldcrunch

LUMBINI - Happy belated birthday, Buddha! The birthday of Prince Siddhartha Gautama is a holiday traditionally celebrated in Mahayana Buddhism on the 8th day of the 4th lunar month. This year it fell on May 17, and that got the peace and party started from Sioux City to Sri Lanka.

The occasion allows us to look back, forward, and take a tour of the world's fourth most widely practiced religion.

Buddhism is about 2,500 years old, with different branches such as Theravada and Mahayana. Theravada is mostly followed in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, and Mahayana is strongest in Tibet, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Mongolia.

Since then, many other sects and schools have branched such as Zen, Kadampa, Nichiren, Sanlun, Sangharaj Nikaya, and many others.

Buddhism spread mainly throughout Asia and remained virtually unknown to the West until modern times, when it began attracting those looking for a more peaceful way of life. So light up a joss stick and ease into our worldwide Buddha tour...

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Society

In Northern Kenya, Where Climate Change Is Measured In Starving Children

The worst drought in 40 years, which has deepened from the effects of climate change, is hitting the young the hardest around the Horn of Africa. A close-up look at the victims, and attempts to save lives and limit lasting effects on an already fragile region in Kenya.

Photo of five mothers holding their malnourished children

At feeding time, nurses and aides encourage mothers to socialize their children and stimulate them to eat.

Georgina Gustin

KAKUMA — The words "Stabilization Ward" are painted in uneven black letters above the entrance, but everyone in this massive refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, calls it ya maziwa: The place of milk.

Rescue workers and doctors, mothers and fathers, have carried hundreds of starving children through the doors of this one-room hospital wing, which is sometimes so crowded that babies and toddlers have to share beds. A pediatric unit is only a few steps away, but malnourished children don’t go there. They need special care, and even that doesn’t always save them.

In an office of the International Rescue Committee nearby, Vincent Opinya sits behind a desk with figures on dry-erase boards and a map of the camp on the walls around him. “We’ve lost 45 children this year due to malnutrition,” he says, juggling emergencies, phone calls, and texts. “We’re seeing a significant increase in malnutrition cases as a result of the drought — the worst we’ve faced in 40 years.”

From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.

Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.

More children may die. But millions will survive malnutrition and hunger only to live through a compromised future, researchers say. The longer-term health effects of this drought — weakened immune systems, developmental problems — will persist for a generation or more, with consequences that will cascade into communities and societies for decades.

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